The driver whose SUV plunged off a bridge between Oregon and Washington has been identified as a Portland father of three, police said — while relatives described him as the “hardest working man” and “kindest person.”
The body of Antonio Amaro-Lopez, 57, was recovered Wednesday inside his family’s 2006 Subaru Tribeca at the base of the Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge, which spans the Columbia River. Portland police confirmed his identity Thursday, adding that his relatives had been notified days after the dramatic Sunday crash.
“Plans are underway to recover the vehicle from the water,” Portland police said Thursday. “The Portland Police Bureau is grateful to all who assisted with the response to this incident, especially the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office for their extensive search efforts.”
The discovery confirmed the worst fears of Amaro-Lopez’s family, who previously said they believed he was the man whose SUV went over the bridge after leaving his family’s restaurant, Amaro’s Table, in Hazel Dell, Washington, as heavy snow fell across the region.
Kelly Brown, an extended relative of Amaro-Lopez, told The Oregonian the married father of three chose to work that evening despite deteriorating weather conditions because he couldn’t afford to lose the revenue.
“He was the hardest working man I’ve ever met,” Brown told the newspaper. “He would take the shirt off his back and give it to someone in need. He’s the kindest person we’ve met in our lives.”
A break in the search for Amaro-Lopez came Wednesday afternoon when a private search team from Bend located the submerged vehicle using sonar, KOIN reported.
“We found the car for the sheriff and we’re waiting for the sheriff to be able to pinpoint the location on their own, as well,” Jared Leisek of Adventures with Purpose told the station, adding the that car was found upside-down beneath the bridge.
Video posted to YouTube Wednesday showed the crew’s efforts.
“Reading sonar is an art,” Leisek told KOIN. “If you don’t read sonar every day, you can miss things.”
Portland police said witnesses and evidence indicated that a car traveling south on I-205 apparently lost control and went over a guardrail just before 6 p.m. Sunday. The exact cause of the crash remains under investigation, police said Thursday.